Ecosystem Pond at Vidlak Family Vineyards

By Blu Figueroa

Published on March 5, 2024

Vidlak Vinyards overhead view
Our construction knowledge and using Aquascape product is how this world class angler fly fishing trout paradise is even possible.

Mud puddle transforms into thriving ecosystem pond

In the heart of Southern Oregon’s Applegate Valley, I had the pleasure of connecting with Dr. Dan and Stephanie Vidlak. These prominent figures in our community recently acquired a stunning vinyard property and were building their dream home.

They had a pond on a previous property, but it had not become what they had envisioned. They researched and constructed it on their own. One of the challenges they faced in their new property was what to do with the existing pond. It was a large, clay-bottom irrigation pond more akin to a mud puddle than a picturesque water feature.

Vidlak Vineyards before
The client purchased the property with hopes of transforming this puddle into a fishing oasis. 

Dr. Vidlak had a specific vision in mind. He wanted to transform this lackluster pond into a thriving ecosystem suitable for flyfishing, complete with clear, cold water stocked with trout. He’d heard about Aquascape’s innovative wetland filter system and its ability to create optimal pond conditions, and he was intrigued. However, he recognized that bringing his vision to life required expertise beyond his own.

That’s where I came in. I am one of five Certified Aquasacape Contractors specializing in water feature design and construction in the state of Oregon. We were uniquely positioned to turn Dr. Vidlak’s vision into reality. With a mutual acquaintance facilitating our connection, we wasted no time getting started.

Upon visiting their property, I admired the homeowners’ keen understanding as we discussed Aquascape wetland products. Together we crafted an exciting project design, sparking enthusiasm all around. After preparing a bid and promptly securing a deposit, work commenced in mid-August.

Project evolution

Initially focused on clearing the water for trout stocking, the project quickly evolved. The homeowners sought to enhance their pond experience. They envisioned an aesthetically pleasing environment with integrated trails, gardens, patios, a stream, plunge pool and landscape lighting. As phase one neared completion, it became evident that the pond held a central role in their lives. This prompted the initiation of phase two — which included the addition of a waterfall, patios and fire pit for enhanced enjoyment and scenic vistas on the other side of the pond.

Ultimately, the aim was to craft a picturesque retreat for retirement. The pond would offer flyfishing, relaxation and stunning views of the mountains and vineyard, while also serving as a beautiful wedding venue.

Project expands to include a stream, waterfall and plunge pool

Onsite, it became apparent that the project had taken on a new dimension before the excavation even began. The initial plan was swiftly revised to incorporate a stream, waterfalls and a plunge pool. However, the existing elevation posed a challenge, requiring the wetland filter to be constructed above ground.

To accommodate this adjustment, we dug 2 ½ feet down and raised the wetland filter 3 feet above ground level. We utilized excavated soil to seamlessly blend the new structure into the landscape. Constructed using all Aquascape products, the wetland filter and intake bay were meticulously engineered to function as both a filtration system and water return mechanism for the pond. This was no small feat considering that it required the installation of three above-ground external Aquascape swim-pond pumps, which circulate 54,000 gallons of water per hour. The pond now measures more than ¾ of an acre.

With the infrastructure in place, we procured and installed a variety of aquatic plants to enhance filtration efficiency. Subsequently, our attention turned to the installation of waterfalls, a stream, plunge pool, trails, gardens and landscape lighting, seamlessly integrating functionality and aesthetic appeal.

Despite the challenge of working with wet clay, the end result surpassed the homeowners’ expectations, exceeding their initial vision. The successful completion of phase one laid the foundation for an enchanting aquatic oasis. This set the stage for further enhancements in phase two.

Vidlak Vinyards pond phase 2
Sixty feet of cascading pools and waterfall, two levels of patios, gas firepit and landscape lights to set the mood for any outdoor activities.

Phase 2 of the Project

Having embraced the Aquascape lifestyle and hosted numerous outdoor weddings over the summer, the homeowners eagerly anticipated the commencement of phase two. Upon returning to the property, their enthusiasm for expanding the features on the opposite side of the pond was palpable. With a clear vision in mind, we embarked on the project in October.

Working with a base elevation of 3 feet, we needed to elevate the area by an additional 2 ½ feet to create a striking focal point that would be visible upon arrival. This elevation provided the perfect canvas for the creation of two-tiered patios and three small, tiered water levels resembling spring-fed cascading pools. The homeowners prioritized functionality in these water areas, with each tier designed to serve a distinct purpose.

The first tier boasted a plunge-pool depth of approximately 2 ½ feet, ideal for a refreshing dip. The second tier, with a depth of about 4 inches, doubled as a tanning shelf or toddler pool. Lastly, the third tier, at around 18 inches deep, served as a wading pool for leisurely enjoyment.

To complement the natural beauty of the surroundings, sunset-gold flagstone was selected for the patios, seamlessly tying in with the large basalt boulders that defined the borders of the fire pit and water feature. Drawing inspiration from the homeowners’ vineyard, a half wine barrel was repurposed for the gas fire pit. This added a touch of rustic charm.

With the addition of a nearby campfire pit, the outdoor space was transformed into a versatile gathering area. It allows for intimate conversations while maintaining privacy. The thoughtful design ensures that the homeowners can fully appreciate their property, whether hosting events or simply enjoying moments of tranquility amid the serene ambiance.

The transformed pond is the focal point for leisure, entertainment and flyfishing

Transforming the Vidlaks’ property into a haven of natural beauty and serene tranquility was a journey. Every phase of the project was marked by collaboration, innovation and a shared vision for creating an idyllic retreat. From the initial concept of revitalizing a muddy pond to the meticulous planning and execution of intricate water features and landscapes, each step brought us closer to realizing the homeowners’ dream.

The evolution of the pond from an irrigation reservoir to a vibrant ecosystem teeming with life, speaks to the transformative power of water features. Beyond its practical function, the pond now stands as a focal point for leisure, entertainment and world-class flyfishing. It offers multiple areas for gathering and relaxation throughout the year.

With the addition of tiered patios, cascading falls and cozy fire pits, the outdoor space has been elevated to a new level of sophistication and functionality. These carefully crafted spaces not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of the property, but also provide opportunities for the homeowners to connect with nature and each other in meaningful ways.

About the Author

Blu Figueroa is the owner of ZenTerra Watergardens. The company’s commitment to excellence and passion for creating extraordinary outdoor environments was reflected in every aspect of this transformation. For those inspired by the Vidlaks’ journey and seeking to embark on their own aquatic adventure, ZenTerra Watergardens stands ready to bring your vision to life regardless of your home’s location. Follow us on Instagram (@zenterrawatergardens) and Facebook (ZenTerra Watergardens) for more information and to explore our portfolio of breathtaking water features.

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2 thoughts on “Ecosystem Pond at Vidlak Family Vineyards”

    1. Absolutely! Please contact owners here. It is an amazing venue. They have an instagram account set up. One word: Vidlakfamilyvineyards. Reach out here. Thank you for your question.

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Designer:  ZenTerra Watergardens

Installer: ZenTerra Watergardens

Contact:, (541)660-2633

Location: Grants Pass, Oregon

Size:  > 3/4 acre

Components: Aquascape products, 54,000 gph, 25 x 50’ wetland filter, intake bay, 6 patios, 3 firepits, 90-ft stream and waterfall with pools, landscaping

Time to Complete: Several months

Crew: @zenterrawatergardens

Buyers cost: $250,000



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